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Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

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Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’

This small but striking plant features in several places around the Garden. You can find it in the main grass borders on Seven Acres, in the shelter of the exotically-planted Walled Garden West, on the corner of the Conifer Lawn nearest the Alpine Meadow, and in the Wild Garden.

Vital statistics

Common name
Lilyturf
Family
Convalliariaceae
Height & spread
20cm x 30cm (8in x 12in)
Form
Evergreen perennial
Soil
Moist, well-drained, humus-rich, slightly acid soil
Aspect
Full sun or partial shade
Hardiness
Fully hardy in the British Isles

Ophiopogon

This is a genus of about 50 species of evergreen, rhizomatous or tufted perennials from shady scrub or woodland in East Asia, especially China and Japan.

They are grown mainly for their dense tufts of grass-like leaves. They bear racemes of small, six-tepalled semi-spherical to bell-shaped, pinkish white, lilac or white flowers on leafless stems in late summer followed by glossy round fruits.

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

This is a clump-forming, spreading, rhizomatous perennial with strap-shaped, curving, dark green leaves 10-30cm (4-12in) long. Short bell-shaped, pale purplish-white flower are borne in summer followed by round, fleshy, dark blue-black fruit 3-5mm (about 1/4in) across.

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ has almost black leaves and looks both unusual and effective when planted in gravel-covered soil or interplanted with bulbs. It also looks good with ferns in shade or silvery plants in full sun.
 

Cultivation

  • Grow in moist but well-drained, slightly acid, fertile, humus-rich soil in full sun or partial shade. 
  • Where possible, top-dress annually with leaf mould in autumn.
  • Slugs may damage young leaves.

Propagation

  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe. 
  • Divide in spring as growth resumes.

AGM

The RHS Tender Ornamental and Rock Garden Plant Trials Subcommittee awarded Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ an Award of Garden Merit and described it as:

"Evergreen perennial to 20cm, forming dense tufts of arching, narrowly strap-shaped, leathery black leaves 20-30cm long. Racemes of small purplish flowers, followed by glossy black berries."

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